While you are here, there will probably be other guests. Some will be studying Spanish, others participating in a seminary class, and some simply will be staying at the guesthouse as their base while visiting Guatemala or doing service work in the community.

Quiet Hours

Since this is a shared space, we ask that lights are out and that it be quiet by 10 pm. Sound carries very well in this facility.

Alcohol and Tobacco

No alcohol or tobacco is permitted on the SEMILLA campus. This includes the Casa Emaús guest house, event center meeting rooms, or garden.


GREETINGS. A kiss on the cheek and an embrace are common. It is important that you take the time to greet and say good-bye. With the indigenous, a greeting is a bit different – you touch the upper or lower arm only and avoid a kiss. Take their lead.

LANGUAGE: Most personnel at the facility speak Spanish and do not speak English.

RESPECT: During presentations, your attentiveness and questions demonstrate respect. Avoid using cell phones during these times.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Take photos of people only if you have asked permission first.


Water in rooms is not suitable for drinking. Safe drinking water is available outside the dining area. You may also want to brush your teeth with this water as well. It is safe to drink all beverages served at SEMILLA as they are made with the purified water.

It is important to keep hydrated, especially at this higher altitude, so drink plenty of water and carry a water bottle around with you whenever we are outside of the SEMILLA campus.

All water at SEMILLA is brought in by truck, and there is no public water supply. Please be moderate in your use and be sure that faucets are turned off.

Food and Drink

All of your meals on our campus are carefully prepared, but it is best to avoid most foods sold by street vendors or else make sure to clean them carefully before eating.

After a meal, please take dishes to the room behind the kitchen, scrape any leftovers into a trash can, and place dishes on the cart.

Please take only what you are sure that you can finish as many go hungry in Guatemala. It is complementary to ask your host or the cook for seconds.

Bathrooms + Toilet Paper

As in most of Guatemala, the plumbing is delicate. Please place toilet paper in the wastebaskets provided. These will be emptied daily.

Toilet paper may be scarce while on the road. You may want to carry some with you during trips.


Guests may do laundry for a fee. Please inquire at the front desk about washer availability and instructions. Laundry can take 24 hours or longer during the rainy season.

Shopping, Charity, Giving

Quetzal is the unit of Guatemalan money. You can exchange money at an ATM using a debit or credit card. Be sure to have your PIN # to make this possible.

You will see vendors everywhere who will press you to purchase something from them. Simply say “No, gracias” and walk away if not interested. You can bargain with vendors at open markets.

People are needy and there is no public welfare system for the poor and disabled so you may want to give to those on the street who are asking. Give either your change or 1-5 Quetzales.

Weather Conditions

If you are here during the rainy season (“winter”), you will want to be prepared for rain any time you are offsite. It is always a good idea to use sunscreen at any time of year.

Health Insurance

All visitors should procure health insurance with coverage in Central America prior to their visit to SEMILLA. There are several very good hospitals and physicians in Guatemala City.

Travelers Sickness

Because bodies must adapt to a different climate and diet, some travelers experience a degree of travel sickness. Following CDC precautions will help with prevention, and students are also advised to talk with their doctor about taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs with them in case of illness. Familiar over-the-counter medications are easily accessible at drug and grocery stores throughout the country.

If you become ill, please inform CASAS staff who will make certain that you receive the medical attention you need.


Travelers should consult with their health care professionals and national health officials to determine the possible need for vaccinations. Visitors from the United States may check vaccination guidelines here: CDC guide on travel vaccinations for Guatemala.